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Francis M. Weston Audubon Society
Pensacola, Florida

 

POSTED - Saturday, July 16, 2011

Migration is over. Heat and humidity conquer the urge to bird, at least for some of us anyway. But lo! The first returning fall migrants can be expected as early as mid-July!


Birds like Yellow and Yellow-throated Warbers. And shorebirds will continue to pass through into early June, with some returning birds in July.

 

We can entertain ourselves by participating in the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas project, a six year effort to census all the breeding birds in the state. The last one lasted from 1985 - 1990. This is sponsored by the Florida Ornithological Society and Florida Audubon Society with cooperation from cooperating agencies.


The state is divided into quads and blocks. Volunteers can census several blocks or just their home block. Confirming the breeding status of birds in your neighborhood, using the criteria established, can be challenging and fun. For information, call Don Ware at 862-6582.

Submitted By,

Bob Duncan


POSTED - Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here's the latest. A really dull spring migration here, good for the birds, but not the birders.

 

April has come and gone and so have the birds. It was a great month for the birds,excellent migrating conditions brought them to their nesting grounds without weather obstacles.


That meant we had great weather along the coast and very poor birding. VERY POOR. Birders from Louisiana to south Florida lamented the general lack of migrants. Not a "fallout" to be had. Well, not exactly.


The Alabama Ornithological Society had its spring meeting at Dauphin Is., AL on the 16th. Birding was poor, until a beautiful Painted Restart appeared and remained most of the day for all to see. This species is a Mexican bird, found in the U. S. only in the southeast corner of AZ. and it was only the second state record!

 

Finally, on 26 April, while leading a F. M. Weston Audubon trip to Dauphin Is., our luck changed. About 10:30 a.m. after a very slow morning, we heard a clap of thunder in the Gulf and shortly thereafter, birds began falling out. We ended the day with 91 species, including 11 species of warblers.


Again, on 29 April, a dry front and north winds produced a good fallout at Ft. Pickens where birders tallied a total of 19 warblers for the day.

 

Migration is not over in May and birds continue to pass through to about the middle of the month. As I report this, another dry front is due and our hopes are high. May is a good month to visit the woodlands in the northern parts of the counties of NW Florida.


Birds are singing, establishing territories and some are nesting. May is also a good time to look for vagrants. Cassin's, Couch's,Tropical Kingbird and Yellow-green Vireo have all been found in May.


Late migrating warblers are Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Cape May and more. Let's get out there and see the birds before the heat and humidity dampen our birding enthusiasm!!

Submitted By,

Bob Duncan


POSTED - Sunday, April 2, 2011

Spring migration is underway. Early migrants are being reported at the migrant traps. Some species reported so far are Prothonotary, Hooded, Yellow-throated, Black & White and Parula Warblers, the latter already establishing territory in appropriate habitat like the river swamps. Exceptionally early, a handsome Blackburnian Warbler was seen at Ft. Pickens 31 March. Also exceptionally early was a Common Nighthawk seen 13 March at Ft. Pickens, earliest ever by 8 days!

 

Keep your eyes on the sky, flocks of White Pelicans are moving west to breeding grounds in the Great Basin and elsewhere. A flock of 600 has been reported. White Ibis are on the move toward nesting area as well. A flock of 130 was spotted on 1 April.

 

Super stars Green-tailed Towhee and Sage Thrasher were last reported on 20 March and 6 March respectively. Last year the Towhee left by 12 March. Will either return again next year?

 

Winter visitors are still around. Cedar Waxwings usually increase along the coast this time of year. Winter residents are augmented by incoming Waxwings from the tropics. Sparrows are still being reported but their numbers will thin out as the month progresses. Ducks are thinning out but Blue-winged Teal, large numbers of which winter in the tropics, can be seen migrating offshore.

 

Late March and early April bring us the earliest migrants, some are West Indian migrants, moving up the peninsula and then NW through our area. Prairie Warblers and populations of Parula, Prothonotary and Black & White Warblers are examples of birds taking a safer route earlier in the season. As the month progresses, trans-Gulf migration kicks in and weather plays an important part in what we will find at the migrant traps.

 

Keep your eye on the weather map! When squall lines approach the area from the west, get out to Ft. Pickens, Ft. Morgan or Dauphin Is. That's where the action will be! Fallouts will occur if the birds hit rain in the Gulf or along the coast as they approach. Mid-morning and afternoon is the time to look for birds. So get out there and have fun!!

Submitted By,

Bob Duncan


POSTED - Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Green-tailed Towhee and Sage Thrasher continue to delight birders at Ft. Pickens. Birders have come from far and wide to see these outstanding vagrants. As of 25 February, they were still being seen at their reliable haunts.


The towhee is more cooperative than the thrasher, coming out on the bicycle trail from time to time to pick up seeds. The Thrasher is somewhat more furtive. One person I met had finally seen it after three previous trips!


The Lark Sparrow that has wintered in the vicinity of the towhee location was still present as of 25 February. It can be found with a mixed flock of Savannah, Field and Chipping Sparrows which frequent the main fort area, sometimes moving inside the fort.

 

The first Purple Martins arrived 2 February, observed by Larry Tilley and Bernice Gilley. Northern Parulas are moving up the peninsula and have reached Jacksonville. Early Parula Warblers are West Indian migrants.


We can expect their ascending, wheezy calls anytime now. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds should arrive any time now so get those feeders cleaned and filled with one part sugar and four parts water, no food coloring.

 

A staggering estimate of 1500 Redheads were tallied at Regatta Bay pond in Destin on 14 February by Wes Tallyn and Don Ware. Gull and tern numbers in the Gulf and bays have been rather low this winter, but they have returned with a vengeance with Bonaparte's Gulls in high numbers in recent days, probably as a result of lots of bait fish in the Gulf.

 

Shorebirds are starting their northward movement and should be looked for on the outer beaches and tidal flats. A good place to start look- ing for these fast flyers are Opal Beach north mudflats, the old Hurricane Ivan cut across from the first parking lot inside Gulf Islands National Seashore, Ft. Pickens road, and the outer beach.

Submitted By,

Bob Duncan


POSTED - Wednesday, February 2, 2011

As of January 28, the Green-tailed Towhee and Sage Thrasher continued to be seen at the reported locations at Ft. Pickens.


Purple Martins have reached St. Petersburg!


Now is the time to clean out those Martin houses and get ready for the scouts.


Scoters of all three species have been reported in higher than usual numbers this season.


Best place to look is Santa Rosa Sound.

Submitted By,

Bob Duncan


POSTED - Sunday, January, 23 2011

The birding scene reached a crescendo Jan.15th when James Pfeiffer found the area's 5th Sage Thrasher at Ft. Pickens.


The tempo of birding activity had been building after the Christmas Bird Counts with the discovery of the return of the Green-tailed Towhee at Ft. Pickens earlier in the season.


Birders from far and wide have come to add these birds to their state or life lists.


The Towhee was a third state record and can be found near the bench down the bike trail which starts at the main fort, about 100 yards down the trail from the parking lot.


The Thrasher is at the Battery Worth Picnic Area, in the brush between the parking lot and the main campground just across the road from the battery. They are still there as of this posting.

 

It has been a big year for waterfowl, with lots of bay ducks, loons and Horned Grebes in the bays and sound, especially in Santa Rosa Sound east of the beach bridge.


A Pacific Loon was photographed in the sound from Naval Live Oaks Headquarters on 22 January.


Western hummingbirds are being reported at some feeders. Calliope, Broad-tailed and Buff-bellied have made appearances.


Purple Finches have finally arrived in our area, with a report of 14 in northern Escambia County on Jan 23.

Submitted By,

Bob Duncan


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